Posted on Wed, Feb. 11, 2004
Dissident presses for more rights.
By Andrea Rodríguez.
A leading Cuban dissident unveils a proposal in favor of free speech,
private business ownership and the formation of labor unions.
HAVANA - A leading dissident group on Tuesday unveiled a list of
proposals it plans to submit to local government representatives in
favor of free speech, private business ownership and the formation of
The proposals include that Cubans be allowed to come and go from the
island without restrictions, buy and sell cars and houses, run their own
businesses, form unions, subscribe to the Internet and buy cable
The 36-page document was announced by Vladimiro Roca, a former military
pilot who broke with the socialist government more than a decade ago and
began calling for a Western-style democracy.
The initiative represents one of numerous proposals that have been
presented over the years by opposition groups.
''The intention is to mobilize people using the [government] mechanisms
that they have available to them,'' said Roca, who plans to submit the
proposals to the local district representative, the lowest level of
The idea is that eventually the proposals would reach the highest level,
the National Assembly.
Roca, spokesman for the opposition United For All movement, said the
proposals are a step toward the goal of achieving peaceful change on the
''It is a document to encourage people to seek change,'' he said.
Last month, a new government law went into effect restricting most
Internet access over the low-cost government phone service Cubans have
at home. Amnesty International criticized the measure as 'yet another
attempt to cut off Cubans' access to alternative views and a space for
The dissidents also have repeated a call to abolish the death penalty
and are demanding the immediate release of political prisoners.
Roca spent several years in jail for his dissident activities in the
The group first compiled the recommendations in December 2002, and since
have shared them with thousands of citizens, Roca said.
''Even members of the Communist Party read [the document] and they liked
it,'' Roca said.
There was no immediate comment Tuesday from the government, but Cuban
authorities have criticized dissidents in the past for appealing to the
international media instead of trying to act through the established